Thierry Henry has admitted for concerns about how a lack of squad depth will affect Arsenal and their chances of winning the Europa League.
The Gunners are back in Europe following a season focusing solely on their domestic duties. They could have had a spot in the Champions League, but Tottenham pipped them to a top-four Premier League finish.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta subsequently invested heavily this summer. He wanted to improve his team’s mentality in facing pressurised situations and deepen his squad for European football.
New striker Gabriel Jesus has hit the ground running alongside Bukayo Saka up front. Meanwhile, Martin Odegaard has settled in well to his new role as captain.
Still, Arsenal legend Henry fears that, with a top-four finish the priority once again, Europa League rotations could cost Arteta’s side in Europe.
“I worry about the Europa League. Why? Because of the depth of the team,” the former striker told CBS Sports.
“I think the starting XI is good enough, but when you’re going to go into those games at one point during the season, a long season, it might be a bit much. But I can see a team and a togetherness, and I like that.”
Henry added that he “was expecting” Arsenal to beat Manchester United, but that the Red Devils in the end “deserved” their 3-1 win at Old Trafford.
And he pointed to concerns – raised by other observers – about how “emotional” Arsenal were after beating Fulham and Aston Villa.
Thierry Henry has mixed Arsenal feelings
“The team is different,” Henry said in his assessment. “When you get the likes of Gabriel Jesus you get William Saliba back, that can allow you to play higher, and Martin Odegaard the way he is right now and still Bukayo Saka.
“What it is with Gabriel Jesus is he knows how to win, he won, he’s bringing that into the team and you can see it.
“Having said that, the way we beat Fulham and the way we beat Aston Villa, we were a bit emotional at times on the bench and in the stadium, there was a lot of up and down.
“But I believe. I haven’t believed like this for a very long time that we can do something.”
Arsenal’s Europa League campaign begins against FC Zurich away from home on Thursday.
Gunners have expectations to meet
Arsenal’s first task will be to get out their Europa League group. Given their summer investment and eventual aspirations, they should have no problems sealing progression.
PSV Eindhoven may pose a stern test, but Arsenal should be looking to pick up maximum points elsewhere.
Despite that, Arteta will have to assess the impact that the Thursday-Sunday schedule has on his team.
And it does look as if one or two key injuries throughout the team could cause big problems.
If it is Jesus, Arsenal will lose one of their big sources of goals. What’s more, Eddie Nketiah has yet to score and has admittedly only played 76 minutes of Premier League action this term.
In midfield, Arsenal look light without the likes of Odegaard, Emile Smith Rowe and Granit Xhaka.
Arsenal will look to get a first Europa League win on the board and hope their momentum can carry them through.
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